Vol. 20, No. 10

Feb. 8, 2001

Allen M. Barnett to receive UD's Böer Solar Energy Medal

Allen Barnett

Karl Böer

Allen M. Barnett, president and CEO of AstroPower Inc., the largest U.S.-owned solar electric power component manufacturer and fifth largest in the world, has been selected as the 2001 recipient of the University of Delaware's Karl W. Böer Solar Energy Medal of Merit, Robert W. Birkmire, executive director of the Böer Trust, has announced.

Barnett was cited for his pioneering high-performance, thin-crystalline silicon solar cells, founding and leading a world-class enterprise for the commercialization of solar electric products and outstanding continuing service to the solar electric power community.

The Böer Medal, consisting of a bronze medal and a $40,000 prize, is awarded to an individual who has made significant pioneering contributions to the promotion of solar energy as an alternate source of energy through research, development or economic enterprise, or to an individual who has made extraordinarily valuable and enduring contributions to the field of solar energy in other ways.

"Dr. Barnett is an important pioneer in the development of high-performance, thin-crystalline silicon solar cells and in the commercialization of solar electric products," Birkmire said. The award will be presented April 12.

Funded by an endowment, the medal honors Karl Wolfgang Böer, a longtime faculty member of the University of Delaware, founder of its Institute of Energy Conversion and a distinguished scientist in the field of solar cells.

This year's recipient, Barnett, succeeded Böer as the second director of UD's Institute of Energy Conversion in 1976. Contributions during Barnett's tenure resulted in the first thin film solar cell with conversion efficiency greater than 10 percent–a significant national milestone.

Barnett also researched and pioneered the development and manufacture of thin, crystalline silicon solar cells on low-cost substrates, leading to the development of the Silicon-Film™ Process, which is now produced by AstroPower.

In 1989, AstroPower was spun off from Astrosystems, and Barnett became its president. The company, which went public in 1998 with Allen as its president and CEO, is one of the fastest growing solar electric power manufacturing companies (NASDAQ: APWR).

Barnett has testified before Congress in support of funding for the development of solar electricity, served as president of the Solar Energy Industries Association (1995-97) and is currently on its board of directors. He serves on the advisory board of the National Center for Photovoltaics in the U.S. Department of Energy and on the Board of Trustees of the Delaware Museum of Natural History.

Barnett holds 23 patents, has authored or coauthored 198 technical publications and has received six R&D 100 awards for new industrial products.

He received the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' William R. Cherry Award in 1996 for outstanding contributions to photovoltaic science and technology and was elected a fellow of IEEE in 1998 for his contributions and technical leadership in the development and commercialization of photovoltaic solar cells.

Barnett and his wife, Marsha, have been involved in the Michael and Charles Barnett Memorial Fund at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, which supports research on "mitochondrial DNA,"–mutations in the cytoplasm of every cell in the body that result in a lack of energy for the cell and cause debilitating conditions. Both were honored for their efforts by the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives.

A graduate of the University of Illinois with bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering, Barnett earned his doctorate from the Carnegie Institute of Technology.

Previous recipients of the Böer Medal include former President Jimmy Carter, for his work in focusing world attention on solar energy, 1993; David Carlson, for his discovery and development of thin film amorphous silicon solar cells for the conversion of sunlight to electricity, 1995; Adolf Goetzberger, founder of the Institute for Solar Energy Systems at the Fraunhofer Institute and professor at the University of Freiburg, Germany, 1997; and Stanford R. Ovshinsky, president and CEO of Energy Conversion Devices and the United Solar Systems Corp., 1999.

–Sue Moncure